Monday, January 30, 2012

Jonah Hex V2 #8 "Never Turn a Blind Eye"

Jonah Hex V2 #8 Aug 2008
"Never Turn a Blind Eye"
Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, story - Dylan Teague and Val Semeiks and Dan Green, art - David Beck, cover

It's the Southern Nevada Territory, 1868 (arrrgh. More later) and a small town is all astir because Jonah Hex just came riding in, his horse pulling a small wagon with a casket tied onto it. He pulls up in front of the jail and tosses the wagon's rope to the sheriff who pries open the casket only to find six heads inside.

Hex demands his money and the sheriff says he'll get it right away. Jonah tells him to bring it to the saloon. Jonah is relaxing in the saloon when a man stumbles through the swinging doors, not believing that he sees Jonah.  The man collapses and Hex tells the barkeep to fetch a doctor. The man, a fellow bounty hunter by the name of Jake Clevenger, is moved to a table where he relates the tale that he and Mike Brogan, Matt Tobias and Bat Shiff were tracking a man when they got ambushed two days out of Flagstaff.

It was a dozen or so bedroll killers and Jake was the only one to get away. The doc comes in and looks at Jake but Jake says that the killers are on his trail and will kill everyone and everything in town once they arrive. Jake tries to warn the sheriff but Hex tells him to let the doc finish his work first.

Outside, four men on horseback ride slowly into town. The storekeeper runs over to the saloon to tell the sheriff and Jake says that it has to be the killers, the sheriff had better be careful. The sheriff steps outside and asks if he can help the men. The men answer him in German and suddenly Jake bursts out of the saloon and shoots one of them through the head. One of the men shoots the sheriff in the shoulder, Hex steps out and kills two but the fourth one rides off.

The sheriff, bleeding from the shoulder tells Jake that he has to give up his gun. Jake says that there is no reasoning with crazy killers. The sheriff tells Hex that he could use his help to which Jonah replies that this is the sheriff's town and he better start handing out badges. Jake rails on about how they are all going to die and the sheriff panics and enlists the help of as many men as he can.

Hex goes back to the saloon and Jake is right behind him begging for help. Hex tells a saloon girl that he wants a room and she takes him upstairs. Jake said he thought Hex was one for taking sides and Jonah tells him that the only side that makes sense is his. Upstairs the saloon girl is getting undressed but Hex has a small telescope and is looking out the window. Hex asks her why she does this and...

Again with the "heh."

Outside, the sheriff is placing men all around town for an ambush and a large group of riders are getting close to town. The sheriff meets the riders in the middle of the street and Hex sees some wagons far outside of town with a lot of kids hanging around. He leaves the girl and heads downstairs.

In the street a woman from the riders approaches the sheriff and says "We is dealing." The sheriff is confused and just the Hex kicks Jake out of the saloon and into the street. The woman grabs a knife and lunges for Jake but the sheriff stops her but one of the townspeople get jumpy and shoot a rider.

Well, all hell breaks loose with riders shooting towners and towners shooting riders. One man shoots a woman rider in the back and Hex dispatches him without a thought. Once the shooting ceases...

Hex grabs a man, a rider, that is still alive and the man hands Hex a photo of himself and family. Just then several dozen kids come walking into town and start mourning their dead parents. Hex walks over to Jake a plants the muzzle of his pistol right between Jake's eyes, demanding an explanation. Jake starts stammering and Hex shoots him in the left knee.

Jake screams and relates the tale about how they were on the road to Flagstaff and come upon a young girl washing in a river. Things being what they are, Jake and his three buddies rape and kill the young girl. Her younger sister sees it and runs off but Jake shoots her in the back and kills her. The nearby wagon train hears the shots and commence to chase and kill the men, following Jake to this small town.

Back in the present, Jake is begging for mercy from Hex. Jonah grabs a rope and hands it to the surviving rider and then leaves town. As Hex rides off we see Jake strung up from a tree and several dozen children mourning in a graveyard.

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed by Jonah - 9. Six heads, two riders and a townsfolk.
Running Total - 555 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 53 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - None
Timeline - 1868. But, as we all know, Nevada became a state on Halloween, 1864. Things like this should be easy to check, so why aren't they? I said "WHY AREN'T THEY!?!?!?!?"
Rape Percentage  - 37.5% (3 out of 8)

This story was a good heaping plate of "Meh." First off the artwork was rough. Dylan Teague did the first 13 pages and the last nine were by Val Semeiks and Dan Green. The change in work was pretty jarring and the break was after a couple of pages of ads. I found myself flipping back to see what had happened. Teague's work was very stiff and the last part of the book was too scratchy and cartoony. This ranks on the bottom of the pile as far artwork for this series.

The story wasn't that great either. A small exchange between Hex and the saloon girl showed some insight, but that was it. We end up with a misunderstanding that leads to dozens of deaths and it all started with... wait for it... rape. Wow, eight issues and three rapes. As Chris Sims once said:

But then again, there’s certainly stuff that turns me off just on principle; I stopped reading Jonah Hex because of all the wild west rape that was going on in that book, and if I never see someone in a DC comic have their arm violently ripped off again, it’ll be too soon. We all have our tastes.

I had to remind myself when Sims dropped the book (#27) but I have to admit I was getting tired of the rapes right about this time.  This is one story that could have been left out of any trades and the world would have been better off.

Next Issue - Things get really really weird and we have the return of Tony DeZuniga

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Volume 1 vs Volume 2 - Issue #2

This week we have "The Lair of the Parrot" going head to head with "Dia De Los Santos Reyes"
We run through each book and judge them based on Plot, Art, Story,  Cover, and Body Count. Feel free to chime in with your two cents. First up:

Plot: Basically the 'pitch', the idea behind the story
TLotP: Hex is railroaded into helping the Secret Service try to stop a Mexican bandit named El Papagayo and ends up being framed for murder by Quentin Turnbull.

DdlSR: A gold cross is stolen from a mission, a padre is killed and Hex takes the Padres niece along to recover the cross.

Verdict: I think I have to give it to TLotP on this one. The plot had a lot more to offer and had more twists and turns.

TLotP: Again, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez. Again, I'm watching a beautiful movie unfold before my eyes.

DdlSR: Again, Luke Ross. However, there are a few pages that are pretty static and there were some problems with the word balloon placement.

Verdict: Lopez vs Ross again, but Ross stumbles on this one and I have to handily give it to TLotP.

Story: The actual writing and how the story unfolds
TLotP: Well, we have a brand new enemy for Hex, a new ongoing storyline and the reappearance of the Man with the Eagle Topped Cane.

DdlSR: I like how Jimmy and Justin start the stories in the middle of the action, gets you rolling right along. Later on the story kind of stumbles and thuds along, especially near the end with the cave in.

Verdict: Three for three? Yup! This one was a runaway for TLotP. I think J and J were hampered slightly by wanting to do Done-in-Ones and Fleisher was chomping at the bit to get an ongoing story arc going.

Cover: How well does it catch the eye and draw a buyer into a story. Can it generate new readers?
TLotP: A good angle on the scene, Jonah jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Two downsides, the text at the top and the HUGE, I mean HUUUUGE fence on the left that guy is falling off of.

DdlSR: Jonah Hex, bandana, hat, scar, riding across a field of red hot skulls. It doesn't do much to pitch the story inside but it sure catches the eye.

Verdict: As much as I love Lopez, I have to give this one to Manco with the poster ready cover. If you didn't know who Jonah Hex was, you sure would want to find out. DdlSR!

Body Count: How many folks are killed by Hex, or should it be ALL dead bodies in the story?
TLotP: 5

DdlSR: 1

Verdict: TLotP!

FINAL TALLY: With a score of 4-1, looks like The Lair of the Parrot wins this one.
Jonah Hex V1 - 1
Jonah Hex V2 - 0
Ties - 1

NEXT: The Fugitive goes up against An Eye for an Eye

Friday, January 20, 2012

Volume 1 vs Volume 2 - Issue #1

I was sitting around thinking a little bit about Jonah Hex V1 and how it stands up to the newer, grittier V2. So, here we go with a head to head comparison of "Vengeance for a Fallen Gladiator" against "Giving the Devil His Due".

VFG: Hex is hired by a wealthy man to find a missing boy. Boy has been kidnapped and is used in a boy-fighting ring. Boy dies, Hex causes the kidnappers to fight each other and kidnappers fall off a cliff. Hex returns boys body but father has passed away and leave coffin with grieving mother.

GDHD: Hex is hired by a wealthy man to find a missing boy. Boy has been kidnapped and is used in a boy/dog fighting ring. Hex forces kidnapper to 'fight' vicious dogs and kidnapper is eaten. Boy has rabies and Hex smothers the boy. Hex returns boys body to the family.

Winner? Well, it's a tie. They both have the same plot and in both Hex refuses payment. 

VFG: Jose Luis Garcia Lopez. There are not four bigger words in the world of comic book art than those. Lopez has a clean style, a sense of space, and a strong handle on the art of cinema and all of that comes through the page. The only downside of the whole book was the cartoonish face of LeClerc.

GDHD: Luke Ross is probably one of three artists today that could take on Lopez stroke for stroke. Ross has a wonderful clean, almost photographic quality. Again, Ross shows great skill in handling the 'camera' especially on the opening sequence.

Winner? Damn, it's a tie again!

VFG: Fleisher has a good handle on Hex and where he wants to go with him. However, he hasn't delved very deeply into the mind of the bounty hunter. The bulk of the story is action and the dialogue keeps it clipping along.

GDHD: Palmiotti and Gray have a chore in front of them. Introduce this bounty hunter to the new readers, don't piss off the old hardcore fans, and cleanse the pallet of the Vertigo imprint. They do a great homage to Fleisher by using the original plot, but more than that, they let us see that Jonah is a little bloodier, a little uglier, and the inner spiritual turmoil between Hex and God is laid out there from the get-go.

Winner? I would have to give this one to Palmiotti and Gray, but just by a hair.

VFG: A Lopez cover with a great perspective showing Hex being drug towards a waiting coffin. We don't get a good look at Hex, but readers of WWT were waiting for this issue and didn't need to see Hex's mug. To new readers it promised danger and excitement.

GDHD: A Quitely cover that is lovingly rendered in great detail. That horrible scarred face fills up the entire cover.

Winner? I think I have to go with the Lopez cover on this one. A cover is to get people to pick up the book and I think VFG does it a lot better than GDHD.

So we have tie, tie, V2, V1. I would call that a tie overall.

Next time "Lair of the Parrot" faces off against "Dia De Los Santos Reyes".

Update: Just for grins I thought I would throw in the body count.. VFG had 1 and GDHD had 2. Should I use that as a tie breaker?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Jonah Hex V2 #7 "One Wedding & Fifty Funerals"

Jonah Hex V2 #7 Jul 2006
"One Wedding and Fifty Funerals"
Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, story - Luke Ross, art - Giuseppe Camuncoli and Lorenzo Ruggiero, cover

Blood Creek, Texas is engulfed in flame, Jonah Hex marches down the center of main street towards several men waiting with guns.
Hellfire Rains on Texas - Hex fires and the bullet rips through the heart of the first gunman to fall. Jonah dives forward and we follow the path of the second bullet right into the eye of the second to die. Amidst the gunfire, Hex hits the dirt, rolling and firing. Three, four, five and six fall in quick succession and then Hex's guns are empty. A man with a rifle comments that Jonah's luck just ran out.

'Til Death Do Us Part - One week earlier we are the wedding of Peter and Margaret Decker, actually the reception following. Jonah is sitting in the corner of the tent, feet on a table, calmly smoking. Margaret comes over and tells him to have a drink to which Hex declines the offer. Turns out that Hex is waiting for the wedding to be over so that he can take Peter to El Paso even though Peter claims he is innocent.

The married couple open their presents and Decker receives a wonderful rifle from his new bride. Outside, unknown to the wedding party, several masked men with torches approach on horseback. The men hurl the torches onto the tent and as everyone tries to escape the flames, the riders open fire. The newlyweds attempt to escape but Decker is gunned down as he tries to save his wife. She starts yelling at the riders to show their faces and the leader pulls down his kerchief.

It's Brian, a man who claims to have loved Margaret first and warned her not to marry Decker. Brian fires and Hex knocks Margaret to the ground, saving her. Hex opens fire, killing Brian's horse. Brian falls to the ground, grabs up Decker's rifle, steals a horse and rides off.

Innocence in Death - El Paso, the next day. Hex rides into town with the body of Pete Decker and the $500 reward poster. The sheriff looks at the body and states that there is a strong resemblance to the guy they caught at the border yesterday and who confessed to the killing. Seems Decker is an innocent man.The sheriff asks if Hex killed him and Jonah relates the story. The sheriff says that he'll get a statement from Margaret (who came along in a buckboard) and that there will be a new bounty on Brian Albert. Hex says he'll bring him in and the sheriff asks "dead or alive?"

Hex responds, "Since when is alive an option?"

Hunting Through the Mad World - One week later. Brian Albert is riding to escape Hex even as they exchange gunfire. They encounter several dozen people fleeing across the desert, shouting for them not to go to Blood Creek. Darkness falls as the two riders pierce the edge of town and Brian and his mount are gunned down. Jonah's horse is the next to go but Jonah rolls and manages to avoid the deadly onslaught.

Hex lays in the dirt, surrounded by the gunmen and he groans out "I don't know your business here, but you just shot my horse for no good reason. I had no quarrel with you boys but that's all over now."
The men start taunting Hex and he slowly rises to his feet. He states that he isn't the law, he's Jonah Hex and that the man they killed stole something that he intends to take back. The leader says that he hopes it isn't the rifle.

Jonah replies that it is and the leader says that since he found it on a dead man, it is now his. A flunky comes out of a nearby saloon and tosses a torch onto a large pile of dead bodies saying, "Almost done Mr. Redgrave." Darkness has now enveloped the small town. Men are working on a nearby oil derrick and lightning starts dancing on the horizon. Mr. Redgrave tells Hex that he should leave town while he still can, everything will be considered a fair trade.

Thunder rolls into town, pushing the rain ahead of itself. Hex says that Redgrave should give him the rifle and Hex will let everyone live. THAT'S a fair trade. Redgrave bursts into laughter and the lightning slashes across the sky. Hex says that he doesn't care what happened in town, how many people he killed for the oil field, with what Redgrave stands to make he can buy a hundred rifles better than the one they are fighting over. Redgrave tells his men to kill Hex.

Hex pulls back his riding coat, exposing his pistols, saying "There's a choice to be made. You can live rich or you can die right here." They respond "You're scaring no one, mister."

Just then a stray bolt of lightning strikes the tallest structure in town, the oil derrick and the whole thing explodes into Hellfire and damnation! Hex pulls his pistols and starts mowing down Redgrave's men.

Now Where Were We? - Hex is out of bullets and Redgrave notes the irony of Hex being killed with the rifle he wished to possess. Hex reaches into his coat and replies, "That rifle's been nothing but trouble for any man holding it." Jonah has a sheriff star in his hand, he throws it and it catches Redgrave right in the eye.

Hex rushes Redgrave and smashes the star even further into the man's eye and into his brain. Redgrave is dead at Hex's feet. Jonah reaches down and pulls the sheriff start out of the dead man's skull and we see the words ST. ROCH on it.

Bittersweet Returns - Hex rides back with the body of Brian Albert and approaches a cabin as dawn crawls across the sky. He knocks on the cabin door, calling "Mrs. Decker? It's Jonah Hex." There is no answer and Hex goes inside. He gets to the bedroom and finds Margaret Decker in her wedding gown in bed....dead. A note leans against a bottle of poison. Hex picks up the note and...

He places two coins over her eyes and takes the body of Brian Albert into El Paso.

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed by Jonah - Whew! This one is going to be tough because of the flashback/flash forward. At the beginning we see six men go down, Hex kills a man during the wedding raid, and it looks like four more when we get back to Blood Creek. Add in Redgrave and that makes 12. I'll go with that unless Palmiotti and Gray say otherwise.
Running Total - 546 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 44 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - Horse shot out from under him.
Timeline - No particular date but this one covers about a week
Rape Percentage - 2 out of 7 (29%)

I honestly have to say that I had no idea what the reference to St. Roch was and had to look it up to learn about the tie-in to Nighthawk (aka Hawkman) who was once the sheriff there.

I enjoyed the story as it had a few nice bits but I had read some other folks that felt the derrick explosion was a bit of a stretch, there only to give Hex a distraction to exploit. I enjoyed the layout of the story, starting off with the full blown action and then jumping back in time and finally getting us right back to where we started.  I was also very fond of Hex's response to the suicide note. We never see the note, making his response even more priceless.

That is one thing that really shines in this renewed Jonah Hex, the story structure is never boring. Palmiotti and Gray are constantly looking for new ways to spin a yarn and for the most part they succeed.

Oddly enough, this issue was actually solicited with a different cover that was probably considered too bloody for the comics rack.

Next Issue - Four, count 'em, four new artists and we see a slow rise in a certain percentage.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tubby Tuesdays #6


Desires low self-esteem

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Personals of the Old West

Estranged SW Bounty Hunter ISO woman. 
Prefer exotic passionate type.

Should enjoy having good clean fun.

Must be willing to cut loose and kick up her heels.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Jonah Hex V2 #6 "Goin' Back to Texas in a Box"

Jonah Hex V2 #6 Jun 2006
"Goin' Back to Texas in a Box"
Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray - story, Luke Ross - art, Brian Bolland - cover

The Plague of Salvation - A man is dragging himself across the desert sands. He is covered in sores. A shadow falls across him as a rider comes upon him and we see about seven more bodies in the sand behind the man, all of them having drug themselves across the desert.

Jonah puts the man onto his horse and they both ride to the nearest town, a small outfit in the middle of nowhere, ringed with a wire fence and flying a flag. As Hex nears the town armed guards confront him and he asks if they have any medicine, it appears that his passenger has the Plague. The guards inspect the man and find that he is dead. They are also curious how Jonah got past the Apache that have cut off the town from civilization. Hex replies, "Quietly".

As Jonah rides on into town we overhear a hushed conversation between two nuns, Sister Agatha (played by Linda Hunt) and Sister Evelyn. Agatha tasks Evelyn with 'washing up' and bringing the dead man back so they can inspect him.

Hex continues on into town, riding past a flagpole flying a blue flag and a red flag on the ground. Hex ends up at the saloon where he is informed by the bartender (played by Geoffrey Lewis)that Salvation is a dry town. Jonah inquires about the flags and learns that the town is beset by Apache raids, blue flag means it's all quiet, red means trouble is coming. Jonah asks for a room where he can wash up and Lilly, the bar girl, offers to take him upstairs.

In the room, Lilly lounges on the bed. Hex asks when the plague hit town and she says that it started about a week ago. Hex asks when the last Apache raid was and Lilly says that he shouldn't ask so many questions and that he should hop in bed with her. Hex declines and the conversation continues..

..and is interrupted by a NUN WITH A GUN!!! Evelyn shows up with a shotgun and tells Lilly to clear out. Lilly leaves but stays right outside the door, eavesdropping. She learns that Evelyn is warning Hex to leave town and that Hex and Evelyn actually know each other from before Jonah's scarring. Jonah mentions that seventeen years have gone by but Evelyn interrupts him again, saying that HER scars are not as evident, but she has them all the same.

Lilly has now made tracks out of the saloon and over to the other nuns who have gathered in the street. The nuns round up a few men and they all head over to the saloon and up to the room. Evelyn is warning Jonah to leave Salvation, the town is run by Sister Agatha and he MUST get away. Just then, Sister Sarah bursts in and tells Evelyn that lying is a sin, worse than trying to bed Jonah for her own pleasure (this according to Lilly). One of the men punches Jonah and he retaliates, tempers flare and guns are raised. Evelyn jumps in front of Jonah and confesses that she tried to bed Jonah but he refused, he is no sinner. Sarah states that Agatha will decide that.

Shortly thereafter, we see Jonah and Evelyn bound and gagged in the middle of the street. They are tied to a large pole atop a huge bundle of wood and it appears that they will be burned at the stake. The townsfolk gather around for the burning and Sister Agatha shows up carrying a torch and a small child. Several dozen children fall into step behind her.

Trial by Fire - Agatha approaches the stake and tells Jonah that it is heathens like him that try to corrupt the children, she tells the kids to gaze upon the scarred face of evil and then she whispers under her breath "Don't ever think I forgot you, Jonah Hex."

The townsfolk have started throwing rocks and Agatha is gloating about destroying the wicked,, however, we are privy to seeing over a dozen Apache sneak into town and make their way right up to where the burning will take place.

What happens next is one of the most cinematic sequences in comic book history and rather than destroy it with words, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...

Hex confronts Agatha, saying she got lucky in Juarez and now she is hiding behind children. Agatha states that the Lord is watching over her now but Hex slaps her to the ground, picks her up and throws her out the window and into the street. Hex exits the building with several children attacking him. He tells the townsfolk to get their brats off of him and then he walks over to Agatha and uses his boot to grind her face into the broken glass in the street.

Hex pulls out a wanted poster for Mary B. Norton and addresses the Apache, telling them they have fought well this day, but this place is poisoned, they should take their dead and go home. He then turns to the town and tells them to let the Apache go or he will kill them all. Agatha rears up, pulls a knife and buries it in Jonah's right thigh and she takes off running. Hex pulls the knife out and draws his pistol but a shot rings out and Agatha falls dead in the street. Lilly is standing there with a smoking shotgun.

Hex points to Agatha's body and says "Put that in a cheap box." Then he picks up the burned body of Evelyn and says....

Statistics for this Issue
Men Killed by Jonah - 4

Running Total - 534 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 32 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - Punched, almost burned, shot in right shoulder, stabbed in right thigh
Timeline  - At the latest, Hex knew Evelyn in 1866 (right before he was scarred) placing this at the latest 1883. At the earliest, he knew her after he was rescued from the Apache (1854) but he was only 16 then. From their discussion, I would figure that Hex was at the very least 19, placing their meeting in 1857 so this story could be as early as 1874. Figure in Mei Ling that means that this could have taken place in 1874, or 1877-1883. (I'm leaving 75 & 76 alone for reasons of the marriage and family turmoil and the trip to China)
Rape Percentage - 33% (2 out of 6)

This has to be one of my favorite stories and I'm afraid that I won't be able to properly convey the awe that I have for this issue. Everything in this is pitch perfect.

The burning sequence shown above so wonderfully portrays the hysteria and the confusion at the burning, how Hex works at getting the fire put out, getting shot in the shoulder, the bullet holes in the trough, the holes in the bucket, each drop of water hitting the dirt before it can douse the flames and finally Jonah realizing that Evelyn will die. Finally, there is that horrible agony of the fatally burned Evelyn, being held in Jonah's arms, asking for nothing more than one last kiss and then..THEN.. to have that denied by the Apache arrow that runs her through and lodges in Hex as well. I was almost in tears.

And the savagery of Hex afterwards. He doesn't scream her name, he doesn't vow to avenge her. He picks up and throws the Apache in to the flames, shoots a man and then hurls the bullet riddled corpse at more attackers, beats the hell out of Agatha and grinds her face into the broken glass in the dirt.

Finally...FINALLY, he hands out the best justice to Lilly as we know he will force her to dig Evelyn's grave with her bare hands.

Slap a Bolland cover on that and we are talking perfection folks (Why couldn't they have done THIS issue for the Jonah Hex movie? WHHHHHHYYYYYYYYY?!?!?!?!?!?!?) This issue is worth easily triple the $2.99 cover price.

Man, I get chills just TALKING about this book. I better stop now, I'm getting light headed.

Next Issue - A Wedding, a thunderstorm, and then all Hell breaks loose.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tubby Tuesday #5


Understands Conceal Carry

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Tubby Tuesday #4


was the 99% before it was cool

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Jonah Hex V2 #5 "Christmas With the Outlaws"

Jonah Hex V2 #5 May 2006
"Christmas with the Outlaws"
Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, story - Tony DeZuniga, art - Tim Bradstreet, cover

Christmas With The Outlaws - A train cuts across a frozen landscape, snow whirling in its wake and the black smoke cutting a burnt scar across the sky. The train comes to a stop at a small depot on December 25th, 1870 and Jonah Hex and his handcuffed bounty, Mike Harley, walk into the depot. In the station, the old station master recognizes Harley and is aghast that Harley has been caught but isn't surprised that it was Jonah Hex that did it.

The station master calls for Lula to bring them all drinks, on the house. Hex states that a drink is fine, but he's waiting on the Rangers to pick up Harley and doesn't want this night to turn into a social gathering. The master says that it might be one anyway. Harley explains that his boys are coming to spring him free. The master reminds Harley that Frank Denson's gang has been hunting Harley since he killed Denson's little brother back in '67. Denson telegraphed the station that he was coming and that everyone should clear out.

Hex has a bad feeling about the encroaching gangs coming in and tells the old man to get him and the girl outta there. Lula then points out that they can't leave since they are already surrounded.

The Not So Wise Men - A yell from outside reveals that Sanchez and the rest of Harley's gang are there. Hex asks what weapons are on hand and Lula tells him they have two shotguns and a pistol. Hex tells Harley to have the gang leave or he'll blow his head off, to which Harley replies that the bounty is only if he is alive and he ain't worth dying for.

The old man pipes up that he's ready for a fight and that he'll help hold them off, but Lula argues that they didn't buy into this fight and aren't ready for it. Hex tells everyone to calm down but Harley reminds Hex that things are going to get really nasty once Denson and his boys ride up, best take the easy way out now. Lula picks up a shotgun, aims at Harley and says that she doesn't care what happens to him, she just ain't ready to die so Hex can get paid.

Sanchez yells in, asking if Harley is coming out. Tempers are starting to rise in the small depot as the old man pushes the shotgun down in Lula's hands, telling her to put it away. She shouts back for him to shut up and for Harley to walk out the door, followed by Hex. They can all kill each other all day, just someplace else.

The door swings open and Sanchez walks in, Lula instinctively whirls and blows Sanchez backwards into the snow. Hex jumps up and kicks the door shut and tells everyone to get down as the rest of Harley's gang open up on the depot. Harley, on the floor is screaming for his gang to stop before they kill him and the shooting subsides. Hex peeks out the window and sees that things have gone from bad to worse as Harley's gang has been completely wiped out by the Denson boys that just arrived amidst the storm.

The Ghosts of the Past - Hex takes aim and shoots the hat off of Denson's head and tells Denson that the Texas Rangers are on their way to collect Harley and that is EXACTLY how things are going to play out. Denson demands to know who he is talking to and the voice comes back "Jonah Woodson Hex." With those words, half of Denson's men mount up and take off. Denson starts to try to reason with Hex while signalling to his men to surround the depot.

Denson asks for Hex to let the station master and his granddaughter go, but Hex nixes that idea. Lula and the old man start for the  door but Hex warns that they'll be used as hostages to which Harley quickly agrees. One of Denson's men kicks in a portion of a side wall and Hex quickly shoots the man's toe off. Hex says that he will not barter and he will not negotiate and Harley says that Hex knows what will come next.

An Outbreak of Lead Poisoning - Of course, they will try to burn Hex out.

The station master has had enough and knows that Denson is a reasonable man and he opens the door to head out. Denson's men shout that the old guy has a rifle and mow him down, Hex responds with a quick killing of one of Denson's men. Denson demands that his boys hold their fire but three of them slam their way through a back door and Harley shoots one and Hex kills the rest before they can get a shot off. Hex then takes the shotgun away from Harley.

Hex tells Lula to tend to the old man before he bleeds to death. The old man, still alive throws in his two cents just as a flaming torch crashes through the window and Denson's men toss a few more up onto the roof. Harley tells Hex that it looks like the Rangers are gonna be too late, uncuff him and they both have better chance of getting through this. Hex thinks for a second and tosses the keys to Harley. Harley uncuffs himself and Hex lays everything out.

He tells everyone to be ready to run and get right behind him and warns Harley to not get shot. By now the depot is fully engulfed and Denson shouts in that it makes no sense why Hex is letting everyone die. Just then Hex crashes out through a window and Harley bursts out the door and six men are quickly killed, the snow soaking up their blood. Harley grabs a pistol from a dead man and attempts to shoot Hex from behind. He misses and quickly mounts up on a waiting horse. Hex takes aim and shoots the horse out from underneath Harley.

Lula and her grandfather emerge from the burning depot as Hex advances on Harley, now pinned under the horse he tried to escape on. Hex tosses the cuffs to Harley and tells him to put them on. Harley tries to reason with Hex since it's Christmas, why not let him go? Hex says that Harley is Jonah's present to himself. Harley says that there ain't a jail that can hold him, he has a lot of money and money can buy freedom. Hex tells him to shut up.

Lula is livid, the station is burnt to the ground and everything they owned was in there. Just then the Texas Rangers show up and Hex asks about his money. The Rangers then pull their pistols and free Harley. He smiles and says, "Sam, I'm surprised to see you riding with the law." Sam says that it don't pay as well as bank robbing but he heard Harley was caught and that HE would like to collect the reward. Harley mounts up and tells Hex that the next time when someone offers money bigger than the reward, go with the money and since it's Christmas and all, he won't kill Hex for all the trouble he's caused. Harley and the Rangers ride off.

Standing among the smoldering remains of the depot, the station master observes that Harley is a smart as a fox, but Hex thinks that someday he'll wander into the wrong henhouse.

The Wrong Henhouse - 1880, Christmas Day. A train, plowing through a heavy snow, struggles up a steep grade. Suddenly an explosion rips the tracks and the engine to piece. Harley, Sam and the others descend onto the train and head for the bank car to finish off their last job in style. As they whip open the boxcar door they are greeted by Jonah Hex and a Gatling gun and ........

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed by Jonah Hex - 16
Running Total - 530 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 28 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - none
Timeline - 1870 and 1880
Rape Percentage - 40%

This story has several unique features. One is the given dates for the tale, something unusual in the new Hex; another is the artwork from Tony DeZuniga (more on that later); a third is the environment, snow (darn few Westerns take place in the snow, sadly).

The story is a great one (better on a re-read than what I originally remember. The claustrophobia caused by the storm, the small depot, the bickering inside, and the changing face of the danger outside really drive home that Jonah is not in charge of this situation but is still trying to hold everything together. I also enjoyed that the station Manager and his granddaughter weren't on the same page with regards to Hex and the situation. One more thing about the story, actually about the style of Palmiotti and Gray. The chapter titles. I love them. It gives the book an overall feel of a serial, either as a dime novel, a Saturday morning movie serial, a tale told around the campfire, whatever it is. The chapters give you a little breather from the action, a small hint of what is to come and because of how much I like them, I'm going to start listing them in the recap as well.

Tony DeZuniga is back, and at first I had mixed feelings. Many years have passed since we last saw his work (1984 to be exact. 22 years?) and his style is now a lot looser, more sketchy and a LOT more stylized with less detail in places, added lens-flare effects (seen below) but there are a few hints of the early DeZuniga with the action crossing panel borders, characters bursting through panels and even blood dripping across the page backgrounds. At first I didn't care for the final page (seen above), but again, on re-reading it, I'm enjoying it more.

The cover by Tim Bradstreet is near photographic in quality and was in the running for one of the ten best covers of Jonah Hex V2.

All in all, one of the better stories of the new Hex.

Next Issue - Geoffrey Lewis, Linda Hunt, Indians, the Plague and NUNS WITH GUNS!!!